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Monday News: Equality wins

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GOVERNOR COOPER ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING CONVERSION THERAPY: No taxpayer money should be used for “conversion therapy” practices that treat being gay as a mental illness, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday when he signed a new executive order targeting the controversial therapy. “No child should be told that they must change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Equality NC, in a press release. “We’re grateful that Gov. Cooper agrees. We are committed to ending this debunked practice and will work for statewide protections.” Conversion therapy is the process of trying to force LGBTQ people to change their sexual identity or preference. It can use techniques ranging from prayer to electrical shocks. The American Psychiatric Association considers it an unethical practice with “no credible evidence” to back it.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233442222.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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LEGISLATORS-BRIBES DON'T WORK. STOP BUDGET SPIN. SINCERELY NEGOTIATE WITH GOV. COOPER: Rather than appealing to the angels of our better nature, the leaders of the General Assembly have gone whole-hog to override the governor’s veto. Touring the state, in statements for news reports as well as commentary and columns placed throughout the state, legislators are echoing the talking points coming out of Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore’s offices. They warn funding for $383.1 million in pet projects in home districts – known as pork barrel -- are in jeopardy because of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto. Only an override will assure the projects are funded. These statements and commentaries fail to reveal that the same legislators had little or no interest in funding most of the projects – regardless of their worthiness – until they desperately needed a ploy to attack Gov. Roy Cooper.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-legislators-bribes-don-t-work-stop-budget-spin-sincerely-negotiate-wi...

Saturday News: Wheels are coming off the bus

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BATTLE CONTINUES OVER MARK JOHNSON'S ISTATION READING ASSESSMENT CONTRACT: The company that lost out on a new multi-million dollar contract to test the reading skills of North Carolina elementary school students is appealing the decision and asking that the new contract be put on hold. Amplify Education Inc. asked the state Department of Information Technology on Friday to throw out the three-year, $8.3 million contract that State Superintendent Mark Johnson awarded to Istation to test K-3 students. Last week, Johnson upheld his decision to pick Istation instead of continuing to use Amplify’s mClass program. “Today Amplify filed a Request for Administrative Hearing with the NC Department of Information Technology, which has the final agency authority to issue a decision on the DPI contract award,” Larry Berger, Amplify’s chief executive officer, said in a statement Friday. “Also, we asked DIT to stay, or pause, the contract award to Istation before the start of the school year, while the protest is under consideration.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article233457362.html

Friday News: Petty tyrants

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REPUBLICANS FORCE FRESHMAN DEMOCRAT OUT OF HIS OFFICE SPACE: Rep. Ray Russell, D-Watauga, found out Thursday that he's changing offices mid-session, moved by the Republican leadership to one of the legislature's many windowless, concrete-wall rooms. Russell was in his district Thursday but said House Rules Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett, visited his legislative assistant at the General Assembly with the news. "(Lewis said) he's sorry to tell me, but they needed my office," Russell said. "They needed to move Cody Henson's replacement into my office." Henson, R-Transylvania, resigned last week after pleading guilty in a domestic cyberstalking case. With the ongoing budget standoff making every vote key, local Republicans moved quicker than usual to name a replacement, going with Polk County Commissioner Jake Johnson, according to local media.
https://www.wral.com/freshman-democrat-told-to-change-offices-mid-session/18545144/

Thursday News: Warehousing children

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ROBESON FACILITY WITH REVOKED LICENSE GETS $3.9 MILLION TO DETAIN MIGRANT CHILDREN: Within 45 days of the facility opening its doors, state officials gave its operator, New Horizon Group Home LLC, hours to shut them again, saying conditions presented “an imminent danger to the health, safety and welfare” of the boys housed there. Yet barely one year later, the federal government awarded New Horizon a $3.9 million grant to house up to 72 children – migrant kids navigating the Trump administration's border policy alone. The federal Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, awarded the grant to New Horizon despite the fact that the company has gone months without a required state license to house any children. And if the state’s prior action against the facility holds up to an ongoing legal challenge, the group home operator will have gotten at least some of that federal grant money despite being prevented from housing any children for the next four years.
https://www.wral.com/unlicensed-nc-company-with-troubled-history-gets-4m-to-house-migrant-children/1...

Wednesday News: Throw away the key

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BALLOT HARVESTER DOWLESS FACES NEW ROUND OF CRIMINAL CHARGES: Leslie McCrae Dowless was charged with two counts of felony obstruction of justice, perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballot, the document showed. Dowless was previously indicted on charges related to an absentee ballot harvesting operation he allegedly ran in Bladen County in 2016 and during the 2018 primary. His earlier charges include three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of an absentee ballot. Dowless remains free on a $30,000 bond and is expected to turn himself in for processing on the new charges. Six of Dowless’ associates were also indicted and are expected to turn themselves in.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233308957.html

Monday News: #StopRDUQuarry

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OPPOSITION MOUNTS TO RDU PLANS FOR UMSTEAD ROCK QUARRY: Opponents of a planned quarry on 105 acres of airport land next to Umstead State Park are hoping that a lawsuit filed in Wake County will stop the project. But they’ve also waged a public relations campaign against the quarry. And with local elections coming up this fall, that effort is becoming more political. On Saturday, quarry opponents held a rally at the park, urging people to elect candidates in Raleigh who will work to stop the project. Opponents say the four local governments should have more say about the lease, but so far none of them have moved to intervene. A proposal in the Raleigh City Council asking the authority to reconsider the lease failed when only four of the eight council members voted for it.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article233175711.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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RECKLESS PERSONAL ATTACKS HARM EFFORTS TO RESOLVE STATE HEALTH PLAN: At the same time Folwell announced what he termed his “final offer,” the State Employees Association of North Carolina, a key Folwell ally in his effort, launched a mean-spirited personal attack on Michael Waldrum – the CEO of Vidant Health – the system that serves 29 counties in eastern North Carolina and operates the teaching hospital for Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The video mocks Waldrum as greedy and selfish. It complains that he seeks a “profit” for the non-profit health care system. Vidant’s operations are overseen by a board that has a fiduciary responsibility to maintain financial viability. This isn’t just about Waldrum. It is the board and Waldrum who must do the right things for the non-profit’s operations, for the employees and the patients. The reality is that without that “profit” many of those the system serves in the poorest region of the state will go without any care at all.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-reckless-personal-attacks-harm-efforts-to-resolve-state-health-plan/1...

Saturday News: King of Pork

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BERGER'S BUDGET SENDS $15 MILLION TO HIS OWN DISTRICT: Millions of dollars in the state budget are going to mostly Republican districts for water infrastructure and parks projects. While Republicans defend the allocations as needed help to rural areas, an environmental group questions the process and oversight. The North Carolina Conservation Network analyzed the budget and found that 91% of $25 million in parks and water infrastructure earmarks went to Republican districts. Most were in Senate leader Phil Berger’s district, which includes Eden, Yanceyville and King. As first reported by WBTV, the Conservation Network found that about $23.4 million in direct appropriations, known as earmarks, went to Republican-held Senate districts, and within that a $15 million loan to the city of King in Berger’s district.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233124556.html

Friday News: Sins of Omission

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NC GOP'S "EXPERT WITNESS" GAVE FALSE TESTIMONY IN GERRYMANDERING TRIAL: The trial challenging North Carolina’s legislative lines as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders took a dramatic turn Thursday when an expert witness for Republican lawmakers admitted some of his testimony on their behalf was incorrect. The challengers used that admission to ask that testimony by Claremont McKenna College political scientist Douglas Johnson be struck from the record. “His testimony in his direct (examination) is just incorrect,” said Daniel Jacobson, a lawyer who represents the redistricting reform group Common Cause NC. “The numbers are wrong.” Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway, who is leading the panel, said North Carolina’s rules for expert witnesses say that “his opinions must be the product of reliable methods and principles ... and the principles used by Dr. Johnson were not reliable.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233105817.html

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